Internet Archive ending free e-books program over publisher lawsuit, National Emergency Library to close for 2 weeks

Copyright law being behind the times is why we can't have nice things.

The nonprofit Internet Archive says its National Emergency Library was a public service to people who could not get access to libraries during the coronairus pandemic, but publishers and authors accused Archive.org of “stealing,” and there's a lawsuit threat, so founder Brewster Kahle says the program now must end.


Here's the Internet Archive blog post:

Temporary National Emergency Library to close 2 weeks early, returning to traditional controlled digital lending


“The Association of American Publishers, which is helping to coordinate the publishing industry’s response to Internet Archive, declined to comment,” reports the New York Times:

Since March, Internet Archive, a nonprofit, has made more than 1.3 million books available online without restriction, calling them a National Emergency Library. It said the program was in place “to serve the nation’s displaced learners” during the coronavirus pandemic, and that it would keep the library open until June 30 or the end of the U.S. national emergency, whichever came later.

In a blog post published on Wednesday, however, it said it would close the library next week. It said that the “vast majority” of people used the e-books for a very short period of time, so could be served under the organization’s normal restrictions, which included limiting checkouts to 14 days.

The lawsuit, filed June 1, does not just object to the National Emergency Library but to the way Internet Archive has long operated. Traditional libraries pay publishers licensing fees, and agree to terms that restrict how many times they can lend an e-book. Internet Archive, by contrast, takes books that have been donated or purchased, scans them and posts them online.

(...) Internet Archive received additional scrutiny this week from the office of Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican and the chairman of the intellectual property subcommittee on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. Tillis sent a letter to the organization Wednesday questioning its plan to digitize and publish 500,000 sound recordings from Bop Street Records, a store in Seattle. His office also raised concerns about the National Emergency Library in April.

“I recognize the value in preserving culture and ensuring that it is accessible by future generations,” Mr. Tillis wrote in the letter Wednesday. “But I am concerned that the Internet Archive thinks that it — not Congress — gets to determine the scope of copyright law.”

Read the rest:
Internet Archive Will End Its Program for Free E-Books